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17 June 2014, 16:42
Plans to build 240 wind turbines off the coast of Suffolk - enough to power 820,000 homes - have been approved.
The East Anglia One windfarm will be the largest offshore wind project in the UK and will bring an estimated £500 million to the region's economy in the 20 years of its operation.
Work on the windfarm could begin as soon as 2017, with the first power being exported by 2019.
It's the first of six projects being considered in East Anglia at the moment and it's anticipated to provide 1,600 construction jobs to the region while it's being built and 1,800 jobs over the next 20 years.
During the planning process alone, more than £15m of contracts have already been awarded to local companies working on the project.
Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower Renewables, said: "This is the largest renewable energy project ever to receive planning consent in England and Wales, and it is a significant achievement to see our plans approved, and an important step forward towards a final investment decision. Our project team has spent more than three years planning the details of this project, and consulting widely with communities and stakeholders across the East Anglia region.
"We will now take forward our discussions with the supply chain as we work towards unlocking the significant economic potential of the project. East Anglia ONE could support thousands of skilled jobs in construction and operation, and make a positive impact on the local and national economy for decades to come."
Gunnar Groebler, head of Vattenfall’s Continental/UK renewables division, said: "The UK is a world leader in offshore wind and if it is to maintain that position it must continue reducing costs if the sector is to have a long term future.
"The investment in competitive UK and regional supply chains is essential to cost reduction in the sector but that investment will only be made if there is a pipeline of projects. Therefore the consent of a scheme like East Anglia ONE – which should be warmly welcomed by everyone - will boost business confidence and help secure more affordable, more reliable and greener power in the UK electricity mix."
Comment from Waveney and Suffolk Coastal District Councils:
The project will pump millions of pounds into the economy and create much-needed extra jobs, particularly during the construction stage.
Speaking on behalf of Waveney District Council, Cllr David Ritchie, Cabinet member with responsibility for Planning and Rural Affairs, said: "This is potentially great news for Waveney and specifically Lowestoft, which is ideally placed to compete for the construction work. If we can attract this extra investment and new jobs it could provide a major boost to the area, helping develop the regeneration potential of Lowestoft. It will also help to build the skill base of people in this area, which will help to attract continued investment in the future."
Speaking on behalf of Suffolk Coastal District Council, Cllr Geoff Holdcroft, the Cabinet member with responsibility for Planning, said: "The Secretary of State's decision signals another positive step for east Suffolk in attracting jobs and investment. Throughout this process, we have been supportive of the proposed development, but have also stressed the need to minimise the impact upon our environment. I am particularly pleased to see the decision also recognises the need to cater for possible future windfarms, allowing for the installation of the additional underground cabling and ducting to create the capacity to link these to the national grid without creating more disruption."